DONS ARE GOING TO WEMBLEY! That is the message from boss Karl Robinson ahead of the club’s League 1 semi final showdown with Huddersfield Town.
The 31-year-old will be leading his side into a second play-off battle a year after their agonising defeat to Peterborough. And he says he and his ‘group of men’ are a lot older and wiser for that experience, and can’t wait to get the job done this time.
“We’re just so excited to achieve something together,” he said.
“It’s that excitement that we have and that burning desire and passion, and that’s all you can ever ask.
“I don’t want a defeatist mentality, we took a lead into the last one and didn’t win. Our mind, our future, and where we are at next year is going to be defined in a few days time.
“We know where we’ll be at. We’re going to Wembley. I’m really looking forward to it. I’m a nightmare to live with at the moment because I’m like a kid at Christmas.”
Dons take on a Huddersfield side that finished the season just a single point better off in the final table, with two 1-1 draws between them.
But Robinson seems to think his team are underdogs to progress to the final to face either Stevenage or Sheffield United. And he’s also got a threadbare squad to pick from.
“To put it into context. We sold our player, Sam Baldock, and they were able to turn down £6 million for theirs (Jordan Rhodes). That’s where we’re at. That’s the enormity of the challenge we have been set, and that’s what makes this time so interesting,” he said.
“We’ve got an injury crisis – we’ve got two,” he said. We don’t yet know about Mathias (Doumbe) and Luke Chadwick. We trained with 15 today and that’s us. That’s where we’re at.
“But at least we’ve not got anyone moaning about not being involved!”
Defeat to Walsall on Saturday and victory for Huddersfield over Yeovil means that Dons will face a trip to West Yorkshire in the second leg of their semi final on Tuesday night.
But Robinson said there is little point in thinking about what might have been.
“Of course you can always look back,” he said. “But I’m sure Danny Wilson (Sheffield United manager) and Simon Grayson (Huddersfield) will be looking back at more games than me.
“Even the relegated teams would say ‘if only we’d have held on there or if that goal had gone in’. We’re all in the same boat.
“We’ve had some very convincing performances this season and fallen short in some games that we should not have. But the league doesn’t lie. We’re the fifth best team playing the fourth best. Anything can happen.”
Robinson is adamant there will be no nerves from his side and believes that the excitement of writing their names into the club’s history books is their main focus and motivation.
“Nerves is what you have when a bill comes through the post and you can’t pay it,” he said. “This is a game and we’re excited to be part of it.
“The players have an opportunity to make themselves heroes at this club, and have their pictures up on the wall.
“That’s what we want and that is what drives us forward.”